Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund Broka Exclusive Author Interview

Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund Broka Exclusive Author Interview is here. Austin and Emily join me for a second time! This time to talk all about their latest YA romance novel, What’s Not to Love. Today, we chat all about the story behind the story! AND you can watch their exclusive Book Hour episode on my YouTube Channel below! Without further delay, let’s get today’s chat started!

I’m so excited to chat about What’s Not to Love. What makes this novel different from your others?

EW & ASB: What’s Not to Love features the characters closest to our own life and love story. While, okay, we weren’t trying to sabotage each other constantly, we fell in love in high school, where we were both intensely studious valedictorians vying for our college choices. While we’ve loved creating self-possessed, even “unlikable” girls and their unexpected love interests in each of our novels, Alison and Ethan’s competitiveness and banter, not to mention the way they reflect on their high experiences, feels like revisiting our own YA romance.

It’s got unexpectedly personal resonance, as well. We were writing this book, in which Alison and Ethan plan their school’s ten-year high-school reunion while coming up on our own ten-year high-school reunion. In the end, it wasn’t just their hypercompetitive high-school romance in which we saw ourselves. The questions they faced of who you’ll be in ten years and what you’ll remember from high school were ones we drew directly into writing.

Emily Wibberly and Austin Siegemund-Broka
Exclusive quote from today’s interview! (Photo credit Sue Grubman.)

You both attended high school together and have said before you were both very competitive. How close does What’s Not to Love reflect your relationship in high school? Did you blitz? Emily, were you the editor of the paper like Alison? Austin, did you change your attire when you saw how Emily dressed like the character of Ethan?

EW & ASB: We wish we’d come up with the idea of the blitz in high school (and Austin wishes he’d been wise enough to take counsel on clothing from Emily)! We definitely included some key similarities. Austin was editor of the paper, where Emily hung out often (and in fact, one key romantic scene in What’s Not To Love draws certain inspiration from here…) while Emily was in the fiercely competitive music program. College hung heavily over our heads. The questions and competition over who would get in where were driven into our every day. While we were friendlier than Alison and Ethan, in many respects, in What’s Not to Love, we had the opportunity to return to the extracurricular- and studying-focused California high-school experience we remember.

What was your all-time favorite part of writing What’s Not to Love?

EW & ASB: Revisiting Alison and Ethan! In fact, What’s Not to Love is a complete reimagining and page-one rewrite of our very first co-written manuscript, which was originally called Personal Statements. In reimagining the story into its new form, we had the chance to incorporate everything we’ve learned about storytelling and YA. We got the chance to reacquaint ourselves with characters who feel like old friends. We have a longstanding love for Alison and Ethan, and the idea of finally introducing them to readers is amazing!

While writing, you both make a novel appear as if one author writes it. Has that process gotten easier now that you have four going on five books? Does it take you as long to complete a novel as it did with your first one?

EW & ASB: We’ve learned a lot from each other over five years, and four published co-written works. It hasn’t made the process faster or easier—we write with strict word counts and schedules. We end up finishing everything on our four-to-six-month schedule—and in some ways, it’s more complicated and more interesting. We write everything in one room, exchanging sentences and suggestions out loud, working from an outline Emily primarily formulates. With our years of experience, each of us now has more to suggest on whether a sentence flows, the pacing of a scene works, or other dialogue would be interesting or funny.

What’s Not to Love has your signature cover. Did you both decide from the beginning you wanted that font and style on all your YA romcom novels?

EW & ASB: We didn’t! We consider ourselves extraordinarily lucky for the eye-catching and versatile scheme our artist, Kristie Radwilowicz, designed for Always Never Yours and continued finding engaging ways of implementing it in each new book. On What’s Not to Love, we particularly adore the other Wibbroka spines hiding on the shelves (and the gorgeous purple). We’ve received cover concepts for our fifth YA (our long-distance-relationship rom-com With and Without You). They’re incredibly cute and clever while continuing the Wibbroka signature style.

Before I let you go, tell us what is up next for you. More writing? Perhaps novel to movie adaptations?

EW & ASB: With regard to film, we’d love to, and we’ve had some very lovely conversations in this direction! We’re very, very excited to have our first adult contemporary romance out from Berkley in January 2022, The Roughest Draft. It centers on former bestselling co-writers whose partnership split under unrevealed circumstances and rumors of an affair. Their careers force them to reunite for one final book over a Florida writing retreat where old flames are fanned and feelings reignited. Our next YA (mentioned above), With and Without You, draws from our long-distance-relationship years in college. It follows chronically coupled Siena and Patrick. Their relationship is sputtering until they’re forced to spend their senior year of high school a thousand miles apart and discover new sides of each other and themselves. We can’t wait to share more soon! 

Watch their Exclusive Book Hour episode below!

Get your copy of What’s Not to Love on Amazon!

Be sure to comment below too and let me know what you think of today’s exclusive Author Interview with Emily and Austin!

Are you an author, publisher, or publicist? Want to get an author interview? Contact me! Also, don’t forget to check out my feature on Feedspot’s Top 100 YA Book Blogs!

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